Mobile Friendly Websites Predict Business Future

Technology in the hands

Having a website that is mobile friendly is no longer about making a few more sales; it’s become a critical component of creating strong brands.

A study conducted by Google on mobile use in the US found:

96% of consumers have encountered a website that did not have mobile in mind.

75% prefer a mobile site.

67% said that when they visit a mobile friendly site they are more likely to buy a site’s product or service.

50% said that even if they like the business they will use them less often if the website isn’t mobile friendly.

52% said that a bad mobile said made them less likely to engage with the company.

48% said that if a site didn’t work on mobile it made them feel like the company didn’t care about their business.

The numbers are very sobering, and it’s apparent that mobile friendly websites are a necessity to be a successful competitor in the marketplace.

Curious if your brand is meeting this need? An easy way to check if your business website is mobile friendly is to visit the page via your smartphone.

3 key ideas to remember in making a mobile friendly website:

  • Don’t let your customers get lost. Having a place where users can click to call your business and find your address easily is a necessary first step.  If they can’t find you, you’ve lost them. Literally and figuratively.
  • Easily clickable links. Links should be large enough that they can be easily clicked by hand or trackball.
  • Say no to thumb fatigue. Limiting content is helpful as most do not want to read a large block of text on a small screen.  Also, limit the number of times they must input information into a textbox. Nobody wants to spend five minutes filling in multiple text boxes with their thumbs.

With the ever-growing numbers of smartphone users, businesses should consider adapting their websites to mobile friendly versions. This requires an investment of time and money for business owners.

Making your website mobile friendly makes it future friendly. By adapting your website for mobile use you are positioning your business to meet the needs of a base of customers who are already familiar and very comfortable with mobile browsing and emerging technology.

Making a  mobile friendly website requires time and money. But, franchisees that purchase a franchise system from The Dwyer Group ®have someone to help them with this so their time and money can be applied to more important aspects of business.

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Setting Goals, Achieving Them Mr. Rooter® Style

BobMascot2By Bobbi Sullivan, Mr. Rooter® Franchise Consultant

The management of a plumbing and drain business would be a monumental task without implementing S.M.A.R.T. (Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Realistic. Timely.) goal setting.

“Goals are defined by success. Not establishing and implementing goals brings the certainty of long-term failure,” says Beall.

Bob, with the support and buy-in of his family and team, set the following goals for his business:

  1. Create sales enhancement tools that provide the business greater opportunities for success and separate them from their competitors.
  2. Follow the Mr. Rooter® Plumbing 14-Step System™ and continue to train new plumbing specialists on a regular basis.
  3. Give back to the communities that have contributed to our success and create a public presence as the number one plumber of choice.

Their strategy began by creating a four-minute Trenchless Technology video and brochure. The video is a combination of the 14-Step System, as well as, the advantages of “lining” instead of replacing a sewer by way of conventional excavation. The video is professionally done and allows the customer to understand the entire process. They all agree that the video is a large part of this success.

Beall also created a two minute video on Tankless Water Heaters that explains the innovative features and benefits. Both of these videos have given Beall’s team an edge over the competition. After all, people buy what they can “see.”

To accomplish goal No. 2 Bob not only made a commitment to send his entire team to Mr. Rooter’s regional Success With Advanced Training (SWAT), but also started presenting SWAT himself. Beall has taken his entire team to every SWAT training opportunity available from Columbus, Ohio to Washington D.C. in the past two years. As a successful franchise depends on following the system, Beall believes that a continual re-embracing of the system turns the 14-Steps into a habit. Recently, Bob has generously traveled to other shops to teach and has invited shops to join him at his locations when holding a SWAT meeting.

Beall added, “Traditional marketing has lost its impact.” Since supporting their community is second nature to the Beall family, introducing the Courteous Plumber at events they sponsor and shows they participate in became the focus to achieve their third goal.

They have sponsored events to raise money for UPMC Children’s Hospital and attended annual Pittsburgh events which include: the Blues Festival, Vintage Grand Prix, Italian and Irish Festivals, parades, Pittsburgh Power and Penguin games, home and trade shows and golf outings. Having the Mr. Rooter mascot attend these functions adds enjoyment for the whole family. Beall also offers expert plumbing advice through the Internet, which has built trust from the community.

Joe Kijowski, Beall’s general manager, commands strong leadership in the Ohio market by meeting realistic and timely goals. Relationships have been built with Relay for Life, Habitat for Humanity, the Caring for Community Campaign and relevant environmental Green Team Recycling community goals.

“I’ve been fortunate in building an efficient team of credible, forthright and teachable front line employees,” said Beall. “This was a prerequisite in order to achieve the organization’s goals. I believe that success in the workplace depends on the ability to build a valuable team that understands and participates in achieving the organization’s goals. Together, people are able to accomplish what one person alone cannot.”

Beall’s family-oriented philosophy, driven work ethic and achievement in overcoming the challenge of being legally blind has taught him that living up to your values (organizationally and individually) has tremendous business worth.

“It enhances reputation in the business community and builds long-term business relationships with customers,” said Beall.

Most recently, the Beall’s added their third market with the purchase of the Dayton, Ohio franchise. “This responsibility adds additional challenges. I have a measurable system in place and a strong team that will enable me to take on the day-to-day activities without hesitation,” added Beall.

“With customer satisfaction as our top priority, courtesy is and will remain the most important tool in our toolbox.” When the customer comes first, according to Beall, “the customer will last. It’s our job every day to make every aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”

4 Ways to Market Your Service Business This Holiday Season

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The holidays are a great reason for your business to reach out to your customers. Whether you’re in the plumbing business, landscaping or perhaps electrical repair, no matter the service, here are four ideas to keep your business top of mind going into the New Year.

#1 Send A Holiday E-card

Email is a cost effective and simple way to stay in touch with your customers. The holiday season is the perfect time to thank your customers for their business and also offer them something special—maybe a 20% discount on a maintenance plan heading into the New Year or a free service on your next visit. Offering a small service for free or at a significant discount gets your foot in the door with that customer.  Play around with creating your email’s subject line, as it is the first thing your customer will read.

#2 Sponsor A Charity

Create a campaign or event challenging your customers to help your business in a worthy cause. Not only are you doing a good thing for your community, but the “Halo Effect” casts a positive view of your business among customers. Nobody likes a Scrooge during the holidays, but for those running an HVAC or landscape business, those service calls may be down in the winter months. If you’re on a tight budget, a business can still contribute significantly by volunteering time to its favorite charity.

#3 Participate In An Event As A Company

The holidays are prime time for community events. Connect with your team and your community by participating in a parade, fun run, or Christmas tree lighting ceremony donning shirts with your company’s name. For simply the cost of the shirts, you can make hundreds to thousands of impressions just by being present at a local event.

#4 Add A Little Holiday Cheer

In the service industry,  it’s all about the details.  If you’re looking to give a small gift to your customers, consider investing in promotional product with your logo and company contact info. A calendar with quick tips and reminders about your services throughout the year is practical for the customer and also gets your message across. KitchensToysTotsAnd remember: “The best way to kill a bad product is with great marketing.” Once you’ve implemented your plan, be sure to follow through on your promises and provide a great service. It’s important that your technicians understand the importance of going above and beyond this time of year. December can be a stressful time in the home without a backed-up toilet or malfunctioning microwave. Innovative marketing combined with expert, professional service is what makes a “Cheerleader Customer” who will sing your praises.

As part of The Dwyer Group® network of franchises, business owners receive professional marketing services. They also gain insight from connections with more than 1,600 franchisees world-wide. Learn more about The Dwyer Group’s seven service brands—Aire Serv®, Glass Doctor®, Mr. Appliance®, Mr. Electric®, Mr. Rooter®, The Grounds Guys® and Rainbow International®—by calling 1 (866) 696-1504 or at  www.LeadingTheServiceIndustry.com.

 

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Soldier Becomes Local Entrepreneur

Korey Kaigle - Swanton, VTKorey Kaigle is one of the youngest franchisees in The Dwyer Group® family. At 23-years-old, Korey is employed fulltime by the Army and owns his own The Grounds Guys® franchise, a business he started at 22.

Born and raised in Swanton, Vt., Korey served in the Army National Guard for six years as a medevac Crew Chief on Blackhawk helicopters. He served in Iraq from 2010-2011. Upon his arrival back to the United States, Korey began researching opportunities to own his own business and saw opportunity in The Grounds Guys.

“They allow me to be myself, but made me an entrepreneur and gave me potential. I see a lot of groundskeepers in the area but they limit themselves because they can’t expand,” Korey said. “The Grounds Guys gives me an opportunity to grow and have a support team. I’ve never been in business, and they gave me the tools I needed.”

Recently, The Burlington Free Press featured the incredible story of the local soldier turned entrepreneur.

http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20130523/BUSINESS08/305220015/A-soldier-s-effort-self-employed?nclick_check=1

Korey is one of more than 230 military service men and women and veterans that own a Dwyer Group franchise business. Through the Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative the company has given nearly $1.5 million in franchise discounts to transitioning military personnel and current veterans.

In 1991, The Dwyer Group the founded the VetFran program, a voluntary effort of International Franchise Association (IFA) member companies to encourage franchise ownership by offering business franchise opportunities and financial incentives to honorably discharged veterans. The company’s mission with VetFran program is to help veterans achieve their dreams and goals by being in business for themselves. Learn more at http://www.leadingtheserviceindustry.com/VetFran.asp.

Holiday Marketing Tips

By Laura Shaheen

With autumn here and firmly entrenched, it’s time to give your company’s holiday marketing schedule some serious consideration. The holidays are one of the best times to reach your customers. Sluggish summer habits get a burst of energy with the snap of the cold and the thought of holiday parties and gift giving. Use this time wisely to attract more customers, and to better serve your current clients.

1.)    Make plans: It’s easy to foresee using a fall and winter marketing schedule, but less clear cut to actually establish one. Plan for the holiday months early, and determine any promotions or discounts you’d like to run. Coordinate these promotions with your bursts of advertising or direct mail—haphazard planning in this regard has been many a company’s downfall.

2.)    Utilize a direct mail campaign: Once you’ve run the numbers and determined which promotions or marketing you can afford to run, use direct mail campaigns to educate your customers. Consider synching your mailing campaign with promotional e-mails, blog updates, and social media promotion. The more cohesive, the better.

3.)    Make your company website holiday appropriate: This doesn’t mean changing the company colors to red and green and posting a garish, bright holiday banner across the top of the page. In fact, we might recommend against such updates. However, talk to your graphics and web designers about sprucing up the company page with a few little holiday reminders. For inspiration in this regard, think Google’s mostly subtle logo changes. It never hurts for a few quick prompt about the holidays to jog a customer’s memory.

4.)    Update website user-friendliness: It’s reasonable to expect higher website traffic in the fall and winter months, mostly due to the circumstances of the weather and events. For companies in the home repair business, you can bet things will start going wrong the day before a customer’s house party, or just when the temperature dips below freezing. Be prepared for an influx of web traffic by updating parts of the company website. If you’re in the retail business, is your shopping cart button prominent on every page? Is it simple to purchase from your company? The last thing you need is a lengthy product purchase process that allows customers to get distracted and put off buying. Consider utilizing wishlists or other interactive ways to encourage turning one time buyers in loyal customers.

5.)    Utilize SEO: Like we mentioned in our previous blog on SEO, don’t be afraid to make your company as search-friendly as possible. This might include upping the number of blog posts, or changing the titles of your pages to include some more relevant search terms.

 At the heart of the matter, all that this comes down to is effective preparation. Be sure that you’re ready for the changing weather and tides of consumerism. Have quality staff, effective promotions and proper schedules set aside. Such arrangements can mean the difference between coming into the holiday months blind and coming in prepared.

SEO Optimization

By Laura Shaheen

One of the more hidden aspects of marketing is SEO, and it’s crucial. You may read SEO and be tempted to bury your head in the sand, but we’re here to tell you that it can make a world of difference—and that it’s not as scary or time-consuming as it sounds.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it can be summarily described as the Google-ability of your company. There are a multitude of tips and tricks that can launch your website up the search engine ranks, and many of them just require a few quick tweaks to your existing practices. SEO has exploded in recent years, with books, papers, and professions being built around the practice of maneuvering websites higher up search engines. There have been some scandals, mostly with some companies abusing the system by flooding the internet with extra tags and claims for products that they don’t actually sell, or that doesn’t accurately represent their websites. For the most part, however, an SEO campaign can be a clever way to boost yourself above your competition, and it cannot be ignored.

To really begin to understand the web of SEO, it’s necessary to delve into the basics and work your way up. Search engines like Google rank pages based on a few secret formulas, but it’s fairly universally understood that more legitimate pages rank higher. For example, your unknown company blog will appear more credible if a legitimate page links to you, and thus your blog will rank higher. There are plenty of qualifications for legitimate pages. Some are simply established by age, some are established by popularity, some, like Facebook and Twitter, are megaliths in their own rights. The beauty of this is that you can link your Facebook pages to your blog or website, and Google automatically recognizes this as a more legitimate page than one with no links. Promote cross linking between all of your pages to encourage the flow of traffic and SEO optimization.

In that same vein, having links and references on your page will also optimize your SEO. Another way to increase your visibility is to make sure the titles of your pages reflect your company succinctly. The Google search spiders don’t look at website pages as we do, they scour the HTML and plaintext, and therefore they won’t be impressed by your fancy images, but they will scan the first few words of your titles. Titles that reflect your business will be turned into keywords and your page will be more accurately discovered in Google.

Tags and keywords are another way to increase your SEO. At the end of each of your blog posts, having descriptive keywords and tags not only organizes your site for your visitors, it provides the search engines with a way to classify your page. Make sure you have a variety of tags—for example, this blog post might have the tags SEO optimization, social media, marketing, small business optimization, franchising, etc. Be sure not to overtag, as search engines frown upon it. If you overtag your website with inapplicable terms like “shoe shopping, free dental work, and Leonardo DiCaprio,” you may find yourself booted out of the system and back to square one.

SEO is a wonderful tool because it allows you to exert a finer degree of control over where your website appears on the internet. The tips above are simple, yet effective tricks to move your page up from page 234 of Google to perhaps page 10—and more advanced research can lead you to page one, and the multitude of profit potential that exists in such a place.

What the New Facebook Timeline Means for Businesses

By Laura Shaheen

If you spend any time at all on any social media, or perhaps if you have opened a newspaper, or even if you simply exist, you’ve most likely heard about the uproar regarding all of Facebook’s new changes. Coming within days, Facebook will be unleashing their most radical change yet—and this one, unlike many other small changes, may be enough to give you pause.

Though it’s been occurring gradually, Facebook has become more and more attuned to you as a user. In fact, Facebook now has its own smart lists on your profile, where it groups your close friends, coworkers, and schoolmates together with absolutely no input by you. It is alarming that Facebook is becoming more intelligent by the day, but that can be attributed to the marvels of technology. Soon enough, the shock value will be gone and we will wonder how we survived without it. That is not the issue. However, the new Facebook that will be released soon does have ramifications, and they are implications that need to be addressed not only on your own personal profile, but for your business as well.

Recently, Facebook has already made some changes—there is a real time feed along the side, along with the intelligent groupings akin to Google+’s Circles features—but the real change will occur in a few days. Facebook Timeline.

Facebook Timeline is being met with both roars of approval and cries of outrage. It is, for sure, one of the most dramatic steps Facebook has ever taken and it’s a big gamble for founder Mark Zuckerberg. Previously, once your post or status has disappeared down the newsfeed, it was unlikely you’d ever see it again. Facebook Timeline is looking to change that. Along with revamping the general design of Facebook, including adding a massive photo banner at the top of each profile, Facebook Timeline will allow you to go back throughout your entire Facebook history. Your older material will be there, and you will have the chance to edit and add to the timeline, effectively creating an online scrapbook of your time on Facebook. Your past will be clearly laid out for you—and everyone else on the internet—to follow. Privacy settings will remain, allowing you to keep things private, however people change drastically in just a few short years. For professionals, it is crucial that you take a look at your old content and make sure that what you might have posted as a college senior five years ago isn’t something you’d be ashamed for your new boss to see.

With this ability to look into the past, employers now have a swifter and more deadly tool to weed out applicants in interviews. Though Facebook has not released information about how this new timeline will affect business fan pages, there is much to chew on in that arena as well. With the whole of your business’ past spread out on a page for anyone to see, it is imperative now more than ever that it be monitored frequently and that every post is one that you’d be proud to have a customer see. Employees are now under the microscope and must also scrutinize their pages and past to make sure everything reflects well on them as a person and them as a business professional.

Facebook Timeline is going to be the story of the day in the coming weeks, that’s never been a question. What is a concern is managing your previous history with your current situation in life and managing your business’ page.

Now, more than ever your social media presence is vital. If you’ve been pushing your social media presence off, it’s time to get back in the saddle and manage your brand before your customers form their opinions without you.

Building Your Company’s Reputation, They Like Me! (And Dealing Rationally With Those Who Don’t)

By Laura Shaheen

The times of business are changing, and the internet has been at the forefront, leading the charge. Now, instead of searching through phonebooks to find specialized services, most people bring their hunt to the internet. There are endless reasons why: speed, convenience, etc., but also because the internet provides what the yellow pages do not: customer reviews.

As human beings in the internet generation, we feel more comfortable in taking advice from complete strangers than simply picking a name from a hat. Typically, this is a good thing. Truly excellent businesses are allowed to shine through their positive reviews, while their lesser competition gets bogged down by deserved negative reviews. However, there are always the one of two negative reviews that really scare people off of a certain service or company. There reviews might be there for a whole host of reasons. Honestly, some people simply like to stir up trouble. They might have had a less than satisfactory time with your company, or perhaps they’re mistaking you for a different company. No matter the reason, negative reviews need to be dealt with, for better or worse.

But how? You may ask. I have no control over the website and this review is chasing off sales!

Never fear, there is hope. Follow these tips to battle negativity and encourage likability and your company will reap the benefits of a greater and more positive online presence.

1.)    Stay calm and never lash out when angry: There are probably very few things in the world more aggravating than Googling your company only to encounter an atrocious and malicious negative review about your company. The review might be an outright lie, but the most important thing to remember is to never lash out when angry. The internet is like an elephant, it never forgets, and people have long memories. If another prospective customer logs on, reads a negative review and then reads you screaming back at the negative customer, they aren’t going to be prospective for long. Remove yourself from the situation and do not post anything for at least 24 hours. By then hopefully your rage will have cooled, and you can begin to make amends to your online reputation.

2.)    Offer to meet and discuss the issue: So you’ve waited 24 hours, you log back in and the review still gets your blood boiling. That’s normal, especially if the critique is warrantless. The best way to run damage control on the situation is to respond to the review in a calm, collected manner and offer to make reparations. Perhaps you could respond by saying: I’m sorry you feel this way about your recent service with Your Company. We would like to get to the bottom of this issue. Please contact us at this number, or feel free to come into our office to discuss your situation personally. We look forward to seeing you. This approach doesn’t just nip the issue in the bud, it makes you look coolly rational and willing to deal with even the most fractious consumers.

3.)    Don’t get bulldozed: No matter the business, there will always be people in the world bent on tugging the tiger’s tail. These people might be looking to take advantage of you, or perhaps chancing on the bet that you would rather pay them off than deal with them. They might be looking for refunds or rebates, and they most likely will have done things like this before. If you truly look at the situation and realize that they are making outrageous demands with no fact to substantiate them, do not simply give in to what effectively is blackmail. They are holding your company’s reputation hostage, and giving in will not serve the company’s best interests. Be polite, but firm.

4.)    Ask yourself if there truly is a problem: Though there are always the pranksters and scum looking to simply ruin a day, oftentimes customers who post negative reviews really do feel cheated and wronged, and this is something to take very seriously. Perhaps your employees mishandled a situation, or maybe something went wrong on your end. Investigation into complaints can turn your most staunch opponent into your biggest fan if you resolve their issue quickly and show that you value their opinion.

5.)    Build reputation in other ways, effectively drowning out the bad noise: A lot of the time, you cannot simply wave a magic wand and remove the bad review from the review site. The best way to counter a bad review is to drown it out with positive ones. Give people a little credit, most people will not take the one negative review seriously if it is lost in the flow of happy customers. Build your company’s reputation by providing excellent service, but also by boosting your online presence. This will also help with your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and will drown out the negative voices.

1.)    Converse, don’t just sell: People don’t want to be lectured to, and the minute you start rolling into a sales pitch, oftentimes people begin building their reasons why not to submit. Build relationships and it will become their idea to use your services. The different is palpable.

2.)    Respond! The glories of social media: Oh social media. You’ve added a face and a personality to companies. No longer are we simple names in the phonebook, or even an address on the web. Now, through social media, companies are living, breathing entities that can interact personally with their customers. If a customer posts something on your Facebook, negative or positive, write back to them.

3.)    Inquire and ask for opinions: People love to give their opinions and they love to answer questions. Make your social media pages as interactive as possible and your online reputation will become infinitely more likeable.

4.)    Honesty and genuineness: Perhaps the most important point, it’s very easy to read something for its genuineness. Your customers are going to go with the company that they feel is the most honest, hardworking and which will ultimately give them the best deal and experience. Allow your honesty to shine through and negative reviews will become a moot point.

Social Media Tips: A Pot of Honey or a Bowl of Vinegar?

Are you using your business’ social media to the best of its ability? Social media can drive customers to your business or drive them away from your business.

How many of you say (or hear your grandparents/parents say) “You’ll attract more flies with honey than vinegar!”? I am in NO way comparing our valued customers to bothersome insects, but I am trying to make a point.

Are you utilizing your methods of social media correctly? Are you employing social media in a way to keep and attract customers’ attention and interest, or have you become the page that people click “Ignore” or (Gasp!) “UNLIKE”?

Below, I hope you all will find valuable ways to keep the customer first and foremost in the mind. A business is NOTHING without customers, and building your customer following can start, or continue, with online social media. Here are some social media tips to help maintain customers and avoid being moved to the spam folder.

That golden, goopy, sweet and delicious honey:

Dear Abby [Insert franchise name here]! A primary reason customers look to connect with companies via social media or by Google is because they need you to fix something. If you provide it, they will come. Have the easy-peesy answers to simple questions available at their convenience, but also invite them to ask you directly via an @name tweet or message on Facebook. A great way to boost your following is to simply provide a fun tip each day.

A GREAT example is @MrAppliance. They search for comments on Twitter with “broken” or an appliance name, and respond directly to those users with, “No need to make food in the microwave. Look up the nearest Mr. Appliance and give them a call. We can fix it!” You have to give people a reason for sticking around and remaining a fan of your page or Twitter account.

Good PR is a two-way street! How to improve a service if there is no feedback? People REALLY like to feel like their opinions matter (AND THEY DO!) When you invite them to comment on service, it makes them feel more valued and not just your average, run-of-the-mill customer. If you invest more interest in their opinion, you have a friend/customer for life. Not to mention those wonderful “how are we doing?” posts you can put on Facebook and Twitter, fearlessly inviting the world to see how your customers view you. Those companies with guts are able to handle anything, even a bad review. Ask how you can improve it!

SALE ON AISLE 8! Let’s face it, people LOVE bargains, coupons, ANYTHING to save them money. The primary reason customers connect with brands is to take advantage of promotions or coupons, so bring it to them in the simplest of ways, a click away!

Customers are willing to “like” a page with the hopes that the brand will “thank them” by giving them a discount or special offer. When you’re creating these offers, aim higher than the mundane and average, “10% off…” Make sure it’s something unique and is an offer people will want to cash in.

Guarantee a coupon for following on both Twitter AND Facebook. Host contests on Twitter with trivia related to your concept and award the first 10 people who respond with the answer and your @direct name! Make sure you are reaching out to people in the way they WANT to be reached out to; the new-age of social media is upon us, people!

Make ‘em laugh, make ‘em laugh, make ‘em laugh! Okay, no one likes a sourpuss with absolutely NO sense of humor…But a class clown isn’t exactly what we are shooting for. You want to show the world your personable side, without losing their confidence in your brand.

There is no harm in posting a link to something funny (within good taste/reason), to a recipe or to something you support (like The Ronald McDonald Charity House, Relay for Life, etc.). Don’t bombard them with opinion, stay out of politics, but make them realize you aren’t an automaton that posts blogs, never reads comments, doesn’t care what people are thinking, etc. Have a blog that details what you did with your family, post pictures of the grandkids; essentially help them to get to know you.

But here comes the vinegar…

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. I was always taught, religion and politics are NOT dinner conversations. Don’t make following you on Twitter or Facebook an awkward or embarrassing fact. I know I have deleted a cousin or two who spouted off religion-related rants or politic-fueled fodder just because I didn’t want others to see it!

Be Switzerland. Make sure you allow your followers their rants about your service (or praises!). If you invite it, it will be given. Treat each and every comment as if it will help your image, (and you would be surprised, bad comments help too!)

Don’t start pointing your finger or criticizing the customer, because who knows, maybe they will remain loyal to you!  Instead of censoring their messages because it’s not nice, have a public discussion with that customer on how to improve!

I. Am. A. Robot. Another reason people’s fingers hover over that “Unfollow” or “Unlike” button is because they can’t get around your updates and Tweets to see others! Don’t flood the screen with information.

A Tweet or three a day will suffice. A question or blog update twice or thrice a week will do. Don’t change directions so many times that you lose their interest. You can even have a theme per week, if it floats your boat! You know your audience best, so go from there!

Tumbleweed Tweeter. You know those old Westerns where, to emphasize nothingness, a big tumbleweed floats across the screen? Do NOT be that tumbleweed! You are emphasizing to your customers that you CARE, therefore you need to actually be there… I know, it’s a shocker.

You want your image to be between a season veteran grandpa of five and a helicopter parent. Show you care enough to let them comment freely on your brand, while also emphasizing that you are there to help with absolutely anything they need. (Pretty spot on, don’t you think?)

If you start something, like a blog, Twitter account, Facebook or something else, maintain it! Nothing annoys people more when they go to the trouble to find you online, only to have you disappear on them. What was the point?

21 Creative Ways to Increase Your Facebook Fanbase

For all of you current franchisees, take this lesson to heart! These social media tutorials are for you! We want to help you all step up with the times in social media and see its benefits reflected in your customers’ happiness and satisfaction. So, without further ado, here is another tutorial on how to fancy up your Facebook!

How can you put this social media tool to use?

By Mari Smith

If you build a Facebook Page, will fans come? This is the great hope for many businesses. However, fans do not magically appear from the Facebook mist.

The Big Myth

There’s a great myth that once you create a Facebook fan page for your business, the first thing you should do to get fans is invite ALL your friends from your personal profile using the “Suggest to Friends” feature.

Unfortunately, this strategy may not be that effective and can, in fact, often backfire. I have seen many industry gurus complain that when they decline a fan page request; it’s frustrating to continue to be asked again and again.

There are several reasons not to use the “Suggest to Friends” feature:

  • Facebook users can only like up to 500 pages and may wish to be selective. (Though I have seen it’s possible to go over this limit).
  • Fan page suggestions may often build up, unnoticed. (At last count, I have 593 overlooked fan page suggestions and am already a fan of 500!)
  • To aggressively pursue all your friends to join your fan page – for no apparent incentive – is counterintuitive to the nature of social media.

So, the good news is there are many ways to promote your fan page and proactively increase your fan base without bugging all your current Facebook friends, and also by thinking wider than just Facebook.

Here are 21 ways to get more fans for your Facebook fan page:

#1: Embed Widgets on Your Website

Select from a number of the new Facebook Social Plugins and place them on your website and blog. The Fan Box widget is now the Like Box and it works well to display your current fan page stream and a selection of fans - see screenshot below with Whole Foods Market Facebook Like Box. I would recommend adding a title above the box encouraging visitors to your site/blog to click the “Like” button (which makes them a Facebook fan).

You might also consider the Live Stream widget for more advanced uses, particularly on an FBML custom tab of your fan page itself. The Live Stream widget allows Facebook users to add their comments to a live event, for example, and that activity pushes out into their stream.

#2: Invite Your E-mail and E-zine Subscribers

Assuming you have an opt-in e-mail list, definitely send out an invitation to your subscribers via e-mail (several times, over time) letting them know about your fan page and encouraging them to join. Ideally, provide them with a description of the page and an incentive to join.

Be sure to have the Facebook logo/badge appear in your HTML newsletters. Instead of the usual “Join our Fan Page,” say something creative like “Write on our Facebook wall,” or “Join our Facebook community,” or “Come add your photo to our Facebook group” (where “group” is actually your fan page). Users have to be a fan in order to interact with your fan page in this way.

#3: Add to Your Email Signature Block

Instead of promoting your Facebook personal profile (if you do), include a link to your fan page in every email you send out. If you use web-based email, check out the Wisestamp signature addon.

#4: Make a Compelling Welcome Video

Create an attractive landing tab (canvas page) with a video that explains exactly a) what your fan page is about, b) who it’s for and c) why they should become members.  The result: you’ll increase your conversion rate from visitors to fans. One ofmy favorite fan page welcome videos is by Steve Spangler, the Science Guy! After watching his video, you can’t help but want to join!

(By the way, with the new Facebook changes, if your custom welcome tab and video talk about clicking the “Become A Fan” button, you may want to change the wording to “click the Like button” now).

#5: Use Facebook Apps

I recently tested a new live video-streaming app called Vpype. The app adds a tab to your fan page called “Shows” and when you broadcast as your fan page, everyone can view by default. (You can also broadcast as your personal profile and selectively invite friends/friend lists). I wrote up a review of this app here. By announcing via Twitter, your personal Facebook profile, your blog and your email list,you can broadcast regular live Internet TV shows from your fan page and create much buzz.

Another example of app integration is Target’s “Bullseye Gives” campaign. Target had their fans vote on which of ten charities they most wanted to see the company donate to. By voting, a post goes out onto your Facebook wall and into the News Feeds of all your friends, thus providing Target with valuable exposure. (For custom apps, see companies like Buddy MediaFanAppzWildfire AppsInvolver,VirtueContext Optional.) [UPDATE: Thank you to Context Optional, the creators ofTarget’s “Bullseye Gives” campaign!]

#6: Integrate the Facebook Comment Feature

My favorite example of this is the t-shirt company Threadless. On their landing tab (canvas page), you can view and purchase t-shirts as well as Like and comment on any item and choose to have that comment posted to your Facebook profile, as shown in this screenshot:

Threadless actually has their landing tab set up so visitors don’t have to become a fan to purchase/comment/interact. Yet they have organically built well over 100,000 fans.

As users comment on items, that activity is pushed out into their stream (profile wall and their friends’ News Feeds), which creates valuable viral visibility for your fan page.

For further information on adding the comment box to your FBML page/app, see thesepages.

#7: Get Fans to Tag Photos

If you host live events, be sure to take plenty of photos (or even hire a professional photographer), load the photos to your fan page and encourage fans to tag themselves. This, again, pushes out into their wall and friends’ News Feeds, providing valuable (free!) exposure. And, a picture says a thousand words – we notice the thumbnails in our feed more than text. (Props to Nick O’Neil for this tip.)

#8: Load Videos and Embed on Your Site

Facebook’s Video feature is extremely powerful. You can load video content to your Facebook fan page, then take the source code and embed on your blog/websiteThere is a “Become a Fan” button right in the video itself. For an excellent tutorial, see Nick O’Neil’s post: How To Get Thousands of Facebook Fans With a Single Video.

[UPDATE: Since Facebook changed the Become a Fan button to the Like button,embedded Facebook videos now display a white watermark hotlink of the Facebook name in the upper left corner of the video player – see first screenshot below. This is a clickable link that goes to the original video page on your fan page. If the visitor to your site clicks through to Facebook from your video, and they are logged into Facebook at the time, they will see a Like button at the top left corner of the video player - see second screenshot below.]

#9: Place Facebook Ads

Even with a nominal weekly/monthly budget, you should be able to boost your fan count using Facebook’s own social ad feature. It’s the most targeted traffic your money can buy. To buy an ad, scroll to the foot of any page inside Facebook and click the link at the very bottom that says “Advertising.” From there, you can walk through the wizard and get an excellent sense of how many Facebook users are in your exacttarget market.

Then, when you advertise your fan page, Facebook users can become a fan (click the Like button) right from the ad as shown in the screenshot below. Additionally, Facebook displays several of your friends who have already liked you, thus creating social proof.

My book with Chris Treadaway, Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day (Sybex) contains comprehensive instructions on maximizing your marketing through Facebook social ads.

#10: Run a Contest

This is somewhat of a gray area because Facebook changed theirPromotional Guidelines last year. Essentially, you need prior written permission from Facebook and need to be spending a significant amount on ads per month. However, you CAN require Facebook users to become a fan of your fan page in order to enter a contest, sweepstakes, drawing or competition. See these two postsfor further explanation. PLUS, good news: you CAN run contests and sweepstakes with the use of the apps created by Wildfire App.

#11: Link to Twitter

Link your Twitter account to your Facebook fan page and automatically post your Facebook content to Twitter. You can edit what gets posted, choosing from Status Updates, Photos, Links, Notes and Events.

You have 420 characters on the Facebook publisher and 140 on Twitter. In the tweet that goes out, Facebook truncates your post past a certain character count and inserts a bit.ly link back to your fan page. To track click-through stats on that link, just paste the bit.ly link that Facebook created for you in your browser’s address bar and add a “+” sign to the end. This works for any bit.ly link!

I also recommend you promote your Facebook fan page on your Twitter background and possibly in your Twitter bio/URL field too.

#12: Get Fans to Join Via SMS

Your fans can join your fan page via text message! You’ll need to get your first 25 fans and secure your username. Then, to join your fan page, Facebook users just send a text message to 32665 (FBOOK) with the words “fan yourusername” OR “like yourusername” (without the quotes).

This feature is ideal when you’re addressing a live audience, say. Have everyone pull out their mobile phones and join your fan page on the spot! This would also work well for radio or TV. (Note that this only works for Facebook users with a verified mobile device in his or her account.)

#13: Use Print Media

Look at every piece of print media you use in your business. Your Facebook fan page (as well as Twitter and any other social sites you’re active on), should be clearly displayed. Put your Facebook fan page link (and the logo) on your business cards, letterhead, brochure, print newsletter, magazine adsproducts, etc.

#14: Display at Your Store/Business

If your business is run from physical premises, put a placard on the front deskletting your customers know you’re on Facebook. Ideally, you have a simple, memorable username. Incentivize customers to join right away via their mobile device and show you/your staff the confirmation for some kind of instant reward!

You might give out physical coupons promoting your fan page. For restaurants, put the Facebook logo, your username and a call to action on your menus.

I was at a hotel in San Francisco last fall and they had a placard in the elevators promoting their presence on Facebook and Twitter. The sign was very noticeable because of those ubiquitous Facebook and Twitter logos/colors!

#15. Add a Link on Your Personal Profile

If you’d like to promote your fan page to your Facebook friends, just under your photo on your personal profile there is a section to write something about yourself. I call this the “mini bio” field and strongly suggest adding a link to your fan page like so:

Be sure to format the URL with http:// otherwise it will not be clickable with just the www’s. You have a limited amount of characters, so keep it succinct and leave out the www’s. You can put in hard line breaks though to make the content easier to read.

#16: Add a Badge/Button to Your Profile

Using an app like Profile HTML or Extended Info, you can create your own custom HTML, including a Facebook badge and/or graphic embedded, as shown in the screenshot below:

#17: Use the Share Button

The Share button is all over Facebook and is a very handy feature. It only works for sharing on your personal profile. So periodically go to your fan page, scroll toward the bottom left column and click the “Share+” button. Add a compelling comment along the lines of exciting news, recent changes, special incentives, etc., happening on your fan page and invite your friends to join if they haven’t already. I find the Share button far more effective than the Suggest to Friends approach. (And, if you’d like to Share content from the web on to your fan page vs. profile, I highly recommend using theHootlet bookmarklet tool at HootSuite.com).

#18: Use the @ Tag

As long as you’re a fan of your own fan page, you can “@ tag” it on your own personal profile wall. From time to time, you can let your friends know about something happening on your fan page by writing a personal status update that includes tagging your fan page with an @ tag. Simply start typing the “@” symbol and the first few letters of your fan page name (this works whether you have your username registered or not), and it will appear from a drop-down menu to select. This then makes it a nice, subtle hyperlink that your friends can choose to click on.

#19: Autograph Posts on Other Walls

A subtle way to gain more visibility for your fan page is to add an @ tag for your fan page when writing on your friends’ walls as a way to sign off.

I would use this one sparingly and, again, monitor the response from your friends. I have never been a fan of adding a signature block on Facebook wall posts because our name and profile picture thumbnail are always hyperlinked right back to our profile anyway. But the simple @ tag could be effective.

#20: Autograph Other Fan Pages

As with adding your fan page @ tag to posts you make on your friends’ walls, you could equally use the same technique when posting on other fan pages. Thisneeds to be used with discretion and I would advise against doing this on any potentially competing fan page!

#21: Maybe Use “Suggest To Friends”

I won’t rule this one out completely as it does depend on how many friends you have, your relationship with your friends, how often you suggest fan pages/friends to your friends, etc (see ‘The Big Myth’ above). But I do recommend monitoring the response to this technique – perhaps simply by asking for feedback in your status update.

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